Photo courtesy IDNR
Armadillos appear to be expanding their range northwards and have been seen in Kentucky and Indiana. This one was hit be an auto in northwestern Indiana.
Recently, Conservation Officer Brenda Louthain, was called to a bridge to check out a road kill in the northwestern Indiana community of Monticello.
What Brenda found was a bit of a surprise as well as a rarity. It was an armadillo. If you haven’t seen one, it looks a bit like a live armored tank on legs. And while you might expect it to be slow, an armadillo actually iis quick and can jump, sometimes jumping into the underside of a vehcile.
Armadillos are native to South America, but over the years made their way though Central America and then on to the Southwestern United States. Eventually, they made it to Florida and now have headed north.
Although several armadillos have been spotted in southwest Indiana and north central Kentucky in the past several years, the road kill in northwestern Indiana is the farthest north one has been spotted.
It is not known how the animal in Monticello made it that far north. It could have been natural migration, but someone also could have transported one or several north.
A southern Indiana truck driver friend used to joke at dinner about bringing a couple from Texas and releasing them in Indiana, but I always thought he was joking, and as far as I know, he never did. Their migration to the Ohio River valley appears to be natural.
A writer friend says he has spotted several in Kentucky.
According to a post on the Indiana DNR’s Facebook page, "We have no idea where it came from or how it got here," It also observed, "We have learned that armadillos smell terrible."
However, it is known that these strange looking animals that look like small armored vehicles with legs rather than wheels, have been expanding their range in recent years.
The first confirmed armadillo report north of the Ohio in the Hoosier state was back in 2003 on I-64 just east of the Illinois line in Gibson County, according to the Associated Press, but they've also been spotted in Daviess, Dubois, Parke, Perry, Pike and Vanderburgh counties. There likely have been other unreported encounters.
The armadillos seen in Kentucky and Indiana primarily have been what is called the nine-banded armadillos. They have been reported across Kentucky (at least 32).
Throughout the America’s there are a sizable number of species of armadillos, but what is found throughout the this area is the nine-banded armadillo.
They are prolific diggers. Many species use their sharp claws to dig for food, such as grubs, and to dig dens. The nine-banded armadillo prefers to build burrows in moist soil near the creeks, streams, and arroyos around which it lives and feeds. The diets of different armadillo species vary, but consist mainly of insects, grubs, and other invertebrates.
Although the animals are interesting and an attraction when first sighted, as their numbers increase in an area, they often become unwanted as the dig up people’s yards, flower beds and gardens.
According to Wikipedia, “Armadillos have short legs, but can move quite quickly, and have the ability to remain under water for as long as six minutes. Because of the density of its armor, an armadillo will sink in water unless it swallows air, inflating its stomach to twice normal size and raising its buoyancy above that of water, allowing it to swim across narrow streams and ditches.”
So, if you see a strange looking, short-legged animal that looks like a small armored tank in your yard, most likely, it is an armadillo.